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Spock's Beard - The Light CD (album) cover


Spock's Beard


Symphonic Prog

3.85 | 651 ratings

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4 stars [N.B. Greger and I don't agree on much. However, I completely agree with his review of this album, which you should read.] Like King Crimson and Gentle Giant - and precious few other prog bands - Spock's Beard "sprang full-grown from the head of Zeus." I agree with some of my colleagues that this is among the best debut albums by any band in any genre. / Although there are influences - Gentle Giant (though I don't hear it as much as Greger does), Kansas (though I don't hear nearly as much as Hughes does), Yes (a little), Floyd (a little), Genesis (a little), and even a bit of Supertramp (which is not an insult) - SB filters those influences beautifully to create something new and often exciting, if not always successful or compelling. [N.B. Contrary to other reviews, the Genesis influence I hear does not come from The Lamb, but rather from the ATTWT/Duke period. Indeed, I continue to be absolutely stunned at how influential the "sound" on ATTWT was on later prog bands.] And although the band uses some fairly standard chord progressions in the verses and choruses, they use them well, and the "jam" sections flow beautifully in odd progressions and shifting time signatures. / Have you ever had an extended dream that moved from "sequence" to "sequence," but you couldn't quite "hold" the "segues," and none of the sequences seemed to have anything to do with each other? "The Light" is such a dream sequence, brilliantly set to music, and is one of the best opening tracks of any prog album I know. [As an aside, the main theme of "Senor Velasco" sounds suspiciously like "Aint Nobody," the latin-based 70s hit song by Chaka Khan. Go figure!] "Go The Way You Go" has some very nice prog bits, but is not quite as successful as the other tracks. (The last three minutes or so are "lifted" (gently) from something on Genesis' "Duke".) "The Water" is the third lengthy composition - as cohesive as "The Light," and equally good, with lots of good to excellent prog bits. Among the best sections are: "When all goes to hell," which has some serious Floydian touches, from the organ to the guitar, from the rhythm to the female chorus of "oohs"; "FU/I'm Sorry" which (although the lyrics offended my "ministerial" ears...) is one of the most compelling sections on the entire album; and "Runnin The Race," which has an interesting Steely Dan feel to it. The final track, "On The Edge," is a good, solid prog song. / As others have noted, Morse's vocals are not only excellent, and integral to the music, but help to keep the entire thing together. (And you can clearly hear Morse's influence on Transatlantic's music.) [N.B. Something about Morse's approach here makes me think of a latter-day Brian Wilson. Don't ask me why...] / It is extremely rare that I give four stars to a debut album, especially by a band I've never heard before. However, despite some minor criticisms and misgivings, I give this four stars not only for the creativity involved, but because the album truly is "an excellent addition to any prog collection."
maani | 4/5 |


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